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Understanding Esports: The Problems Facing Australian Esports

While we do have quite a lot of people interested in esports in Australia, we’ve unfortunately seen no such organisation to rival or emulate what KeSPA did for Korea fifteen years ago. Even countries like America have organisations like Electronic Sports League (ESL) and the game publishers locally to build the scene and keep investing in the community. Without these things Australia and the surrounding Oceanic region has been essentially left behind, stuck for many years with small scale and community events despite the interest in it.

The main barriers to the widespread nature and growth of our scene and community are twofold: our infrastructure, and the local market and player base. The problem of infrastructure extends far beyond esports only, with our internet speeds causing issues for a whole host of emerging career prospects.

Crown Casino Melbourne’s $55,500 Counter Strike Invitational. source

This is a major issue for local players as they cannot connect with the rest of the world for tournaments without significant lag and connection issues – a real problem when victories and losses can be secured in mere seconds. Reaction time is pivotal in a lot of esports, and we’re already on the back foot.

The other main reason for a smaller culture of esports here is the community and market. While companies like Riot Games and Blizzard make effort to ensure a path to bigger events for the Australian players, people here need to continue seeing esports as a serious undertaking. As more people compete and get involved, the more these companies can get in and support the community.

The OPL Split 1 Finals in Sydney last year. source

There’s also the stigma of esports that sticks around and segregates it from conventional sports. In Australia, we have quite a large culture of traditional sports with huge followings, but the fanbases for both tend not to cross. Be it the representation in the media or the lack of media celebrating and supporting it, we really have an uphill battle if we want to see a growth of esports and its culture in Australia.

However, there is plenty of hope for the future growth of esports in Australia, and a lot of that hope lies in the hands of the community. While infrastructure slowly but surely develops here, the way esports are depicted and shown is of utmost importance. As more and more people come to understand the scale and skill that goes into the competition, more can come to enjoy what so many are already engaged with.

Esports are a big deal. They’re on the rise and providing legitimate careers for a new generation. As the fan base grows so will the culture, and with gaming houses cropping up and more people getting the esports bug, Australians are well on their way to competing on the world stage.